A PYMNTS Company

Antitrust Division Commits To Labor Market Enforcement As A Top Priority

 |  October 29, 2021

By: Robert Connolly (Cartel Capers)

At an October 1, 2021 in-person conference (Fordham’s 48th Annual Conference on International Antitrust Law and Policy) Acting Assistant Attorney General Richard A. Powers of the Antitrust Division spoke about the history of and Antitrust Division’s commitment to enforcing the antitrust laws, including criminal enforcement, in labor markets:  “If it was important for enforcers to protect competition in labor markets decades ago — and I believe it was — it is essential now.”

I suggest reading the speech in its entirety (here) but I’ll quote a few of the remarks:

  • “Between 2010 and 2012, the Division filed civil enforcement actions against Adobe, Apple, eBay, Google, Intel, Intuit, Lucasfilm, and Pixar for entering into unlawful agreements not to compete for each other’s workers through various means. These enforcement actions were important for a few reasons. First, they made clear that companies that do not compete to make or sell the same products or services nonetheless compete vigorously in labor markets. That is why they have incentives to collude in a labor market in the first instance. Second, the investigation reaffirmed that agreements to allocate labor markets are no different than agreements to allocate markets by territory or customer. [Well, they were treated a little differently as these likely would have been criminal cases given the explicit evidence of agreement but civil cases were brought first as a sort of “warning shot.].
  • Beginning in October 2016, the Division made a series of public statements that, going forward, it intends to criminally prosecute naked labor market allocation and wage-fixing conspiracies.
  • Since that time, labor market investigations have comprised a growing portion of our docket. Thus far, we have charged four criminal cases for alleged collusion in labor markets….